Life is too serious. Have a laugh with friends - it's good for your health.
Life is too serious. Have a laugh with friends - it's good for your health. PeopleImages

Celebrate the magic of getting older

OCTOBER 1 is the International Day of Older Persons so, no matter how old you are, get out there and dress inappropriately, have a laugh and maybe get together with some older friends.

Because we all want to stay well as we age, we invited Dr Frances Batchelor, the director of clinical gerontology at the National Ageing Research Institute, to share some advice with our readers on healthy living.

The main message for healthy ageing is to keep active, eat well, and stay connected.

"There is a large amount of emerging evidence of the connections between mind and body," Dr Batchelor said. "Being healthy in both mind and body is vital. Including approaches and ways that target both is important for healthy ageing."

For those wanting help to make lifestyle choices which will facilitate healthy ageing, the National Ageing Research Institute in collaboration with National Seniors Australia has developed the Healthy Ageing Quiz. An online version is available at

With thanks to the Council of Healthy Ageing, Victoria

Easy moves

Physical activity is essential for maintaining physical functional abilities and independence as we age.

It can reduce the risk of chronic illness and help manage any chronic illness present, and prevent falls. It can also maintain or improve brain health and depending on people's preference for physical activity it can provide social interactions, Dr Batchelor said.

# Physical activity recommendations for older Australians include at least 150 minutes per week, preferably by accumulating 30 minutes on most days, of moderate intensity aerobic activity.

# Staying active in as many ways as possible, including doing a range of activities that incorporate fitness, strength, balance and flexibility, is encouraged.

# If people have stopped physical activity or wish to start a new physical activity, starting slowly and building up gradually and discussing the physical activity with an appropriate health professional is suggested.

Love your body

# Eat a well-balanced diet which maximises fresh fruit and vegetables - preferably chemical free. Don't forget grains and your choice of lean protein - fish, chicken, legumes, tofu, beef, eggs or lamb. Stay away from fatty, processed meats and reduce your meat intake overall in favour of greens, greens, greens and good oils - olive and coconut.

# Aim to maintain a healthy weight, but don't be too thin.

# Try to eat three regular meals a day.

# Limit alcohol intake to the recommended level of no more than two standard drinks a day for healthy men and women.

# Limit your intake of discretionary foods. These include foods that can increase your risk of chronic illness and provide minimal nutrition such as chips, chocolate, fizzy drinks, alcohol and energy drinks.

# Be aware of food safety including safe storage and handling.


Staying active builds body, brain and mental health. So do whatever you can, and what is fun.
Staying active builds body, brain and mental health. So do whatever you can, and what is fun. Wavebreakmedia

Get out and about

# Keep socially and productively engaged by taking part in communal activities like volunteer work, paid work, taking care of grandchildren and creative activities.

# Keep a positive attitude towards life and a sense of humour!

# Planning for future activities fosters a sense of positivity.

# Be adaptive as circumstances change, look for opportunities to meet new friends, to take on new activities and learn new skills.

# Plan long-term housing and financial needs, as well as retirement activities. Don't wait until the day of retirement to decide what you will do to keep active and productively engaged.

Tips for a healthy mind

# Take up activities that challenge and stimulate the mind like reading, writing, playing a musical instrument or doing the crossword.

# Maintain interest in hobbies.

# Consider volunteering and helping others.

# Practice a relaxation technique, even if it's just lying down listening to your favourite music.

Tobacco-free living

Tobacco smoking remains one of the most prominent risk factors for ill health. Quitting at any time of life is associated with lowered risk of ill health.

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